Matt Berndt is a Career Coach with more than 18 years of experience helping people find jobs through resume, interview and job search consulting, coaching and advising. You can find more from him at The Campus Career Coach.
I know – your parents and (it feels like) everyone else is asking you:
What do you want to study in college?
What are you going to do when you graduate?
What do you want to do with your life?
Like you know the answers to those questions already, right?
They also offer a lot of great advice, don’t they? Give ‘em a break – they mean well. And, be honest, you’re not always eager to take advice from your parents.
I know, I was your age once. So was Mark Twain. He said:
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
So with that in mind, and as you think about college, here is a little advice you probably won’t take from your parents:
It’s okay to not know what you are going to do with your life, but you have to explore your options
You are at the start of your life’s journey to find out what you are going to do. Start, move forward, and discover what you might do.
Going to college involves a lot more than taking classes and getting involved in campus activities.
[highlight] It’s your job to connect the dots between what you do in the classroom and what you do outside the classroom through your internships, part-time jobs, volunteer service and student activities. Your college will not make you do this – you have to take on that responsibility yourself. [/highlight]
If you make a regular effort to connect these dots, you will figure out what you are going to do next. And knowing what you are going to do next is a lot more important than believing you know what you are going to do with the rest of your life.
Ask a lot of questions
Just don’t ask random, useless questions. Ask questions to learn. Be crazy curious about the world and your place in it. Listen to and process the answers. The more you ask and the more you listen, the more you will learn.
Learn to live within your means
Do you know what it costs to be you? Seriously, what does everything you do cost? What lifestyle have you become accustomed to? Eventually, you will be paying all of your own bills, so the sooner you learn to live frugally – to live within your means – the better off you will be.
Take (smart) risks
Don’t play everything safe. Don’t be stupid either, but there is a lot of gray area between taking every risk imaginable and take no risks at all.
Remember the Parable of the Talents? The master gave three servants there different amounts of Talents to invest. The one servant who did nothing with his Talent (other than bury it in the ground) was scolded and “thrown outside, into the darkness, where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Trust me – you want nothing to do with weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Be who God made you to be
You are young. You have been blessed with many gifts. Explore the gifts God has given you.
You will make mistakes. That’s okay (remember, you’re forgiven!); learn from them so you make different mistakes the next time around (‘cuz you’ll keep making them).
God put you on the earth for a unique purpose – start looking to find out what your purpose is, and when you do – get busy doing it! So, you don’t know what you want to do? So what, that’s why they call it faith!
Have faith! Be curious! Be smart! Be strong! Be you!